A woman sits at a table next to me, waiting. She is dressed incongruently, which, I surmise is an attempt to look eccentric, or anti-fashion. She is wearing an orange house coat from the early 1970s, green plaid socks, clogs, and a blue bandana. Her lipstick is blood red which looks odd against her very white skin.
She is talking on her cell to someone whom I assume is her fiance: “I need for you to be more involved with the wedding,” she wines. Then her voice begins to quiver.
”No Vinnie, Vinnie, I’m just saying that it would be NICE if you would…,” suddenly a young man approaches her table and stands there, waiting for her to get off of the phone.
“Vinnie, I have to go now. I’ll talk to you tonight,” she whimpers.
The woman wipes her eyes: “Hi. Sorry…I’ll be right back. “
She leaves for 5 minutes while the young man sits waiting at her table. He looks tired.
Returning, after collecting herself, the woman says to the young man, “Adam, thanks SO MUCH for meeting me. It’s been so crazy at work, and the conference room wasn’t available. I wanted to go over some things with you, and thought it would be best to just meet here, since it is nearby.”
“Sure,” says Adam.
“And let me first say THANK YOU for all of your help on this issue.”
“Uh-huh,” says Adam. “Whatever, it’s my job, right.”
“No Adam, I mean it—THANK YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR HELP.”
Adam looks at her with disdain, “No problem,” he mumbles.
“Now Adam,” she says, “I really NEEDED to speak with you—away from the magazine.” She takes out a sheet of paper that has a list of single spaced written points covering the page. “So, how can I say this?” She looks directly at him.
“I really NEED for you to be more careful! I mean, I know that there are a lot of details, but our team must have a high degree of quality control, especially now that Chelsea has left. After all, she was our team leader, and without her—things may fall into chaos.”
Adam smiles and then says, “Mills, she was another employee—that’s it—not the captain of a ship. Are you afraid there will be mutiny?”
Mills does not find this funny, “Anyway…,” she continues, “I added 87 more points to the QC List, and I think we should go over them.”
Adam looks at the sheet of paper, “…and what does QC stand for again?” he asks.
Mills looks incensed, “QUALITY CONTROL! Isn’t that obvious?” She glowers at him.
As Mills looks lovingly at her QC list, I see Adam roll his eyes.
From what I can tell, these two people work together at a magazine. Mills seems to think that she is in charge of Adam, and now, in the coffee shop, she was about to dole out some reprimand.
“So the thing is…” Mills begins, “I really NEED for you to follow the QC list.”
Adam looks annoyed. “I am following it,” he replies.
Mills looks stunned at his statement, and produces a loud laugh: “I’M JUST TRYING TO HELP YOU!” she says emphatically.
She then pulls from out of her bag a huge collection of 11″ X 17″ color layouts and arranges them on the table.
She begins: “For example, in the Beauty story…right here—you neglected to follow point #114, which says: KISS THE COPY TO THE 1p6 MEASURED LINE.”
Adam squints at the page and says, “It is touching the baseline.”
“Mills cuts him off, defensively, “Don’t you remember how we talked about the need for the copy to just hover—oh so delicately—on the upper most edge so that it is literally ‘kissing’ the baseline?”
“Kiss this, Mills,” I think to myself.
I feel for Adam, and couldn’t imagine having to work with this pathological woman. Adam looks over at me, as I raise my cup of coffee saying “cheers”.
Mills continues, “…and here, on page 126 of the Favors story, you left a space between the ‘n’ and the ‘d’.”
Adam looks annoyed, “Mills, this was dummy copy. I knew that, of course, it would be changed in the next round.”
“THAT DOESN’T MATTER!,” protests Mills, “…as it is clearly stated on the QC List: ALL DUMMY COPY MUST BE PROOFREAD.”
“But Mills,” replies poor Adam, “Dummy copy is nonsense; it’s purpose is just for…”
“IT DOESN’T MATTER!,” barks Mills “It’s on the QC List, and I really must insist that EVERY point on it be followed TO-THE-TEE!”
Her face is now red, and her eyes seem to be bulging out of her head.
I glance over at the layout she is holding and see that the margins are filled with tiny meticulous pencilled-in notations that appear to cover all the available white space on the page.
She catches her bad temper and tries to collect herself. “Anyway, do you want to take a look at my notes on these layouts?” She pushes the huge pile of 11′ X 17″ pages over to Adam.
He looks at the pile and says, “Not now Mills. I have a class. I’ll look them over at work.”
Mills observes Adam condescendingly and says, “Okay, that’s fine. We can go over this tomorrow. But Adam, I do want to say PLEASE be more C-A-R-E-F-U-L.
Everyone LOVES you at the magazine. You are SO FUN!” Mills thinks for a moment “…and FUNNY!”
Adam rubs his temples.
“But…” Mills continues, “being fun and funny IS NOT ENOUGH!” Procedures are crucial for running a tight ship. Adam, YOU are one of the team members on this ship.”
(I’m thinking that Adam may have to bail ship sooner than later).
“I know I run a tight ship, but it’s because I CARE about QC. I have a TALENT for QC!
Quality Control is what makes the magazine so perfect; Talent and Quality Control…where would we be without them!”
We’d be sane, Mills.
We would be sane.